Transactional sex and the ‘aristo’ phenomenon in Nigerian universities

Oludayo Tade 1  and Adeshewa Adekoya 1
  • 1 Department of Sociology, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


‘Aristocratic’ transactional relationships are widespread in Nigerian universities. Nigerian cultures positively sanction repressive sexual activities among single unmarried adolescents until the wedding night. Modernity has confronted this cultural prescription, as youths, particularly girls, engage in transactional exchange in different contexts. However, the literature on transactional sex in the ivory towers is not rich enough on client recruitment and management among female undergraduates in Nigeria. This study utilised in-depth interviews to collect data from 30 purposively selected female undergraduates. Findings show that the prostitution label is substituted for ‘runs-girls’, as a distinct social category. Clients are recruited on and off campus through mastery of routine activities of ‘aristocrats’ on campus, connection and referrals. The ‘aristos’ include wealthy postgraduate students, politicians, business men, and military personnel, among others. The sex work is undertaken on and off campus, in hotels or in the private residences of ‘runs-girls’. ‘Aristocratic’ transactional sex is sustained by erotic capital, including dexterous bed skills, such as sucking and romance. Luxury possessions, such as cars, BlackBerry phones and social security (job placement) after school life are the perceived derivable benefits of the erotic association. Provision of part-time jobs for vulnerable students could positively reduce transactional sex in ivory towers.

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